Monday, June 03, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

Rebecca spent the entire weekend at a review course for her upcoming state PTA exams, leaving me with plenty of time to write code and exercise Booty in between rain storms. After 173.5 hours of development, I've released , which adds audit histories, the ability to submit comments by email, and various AJAX bells and whistles.

I'll get a demo site up sometime in the next couple of versions. The work is still intriguing, sometimes tedious, and always rewarding. Had I started writing open source software years ago instead of farming for my epic mount at level 59, or devising a well-lit interstate system across a Minecraft planet, I probably could have taken over the world by now.

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

List Day: 15 Things There Are More of with Rebecca Around

  • Shoes

  • Hummus

  • Weird rice-like alternatives

  • 30 Rock

  • Conditioner

  • Cookies

  • Bubble wands

  • Women

  • Memoirs

  • Indie albums with whiny guys

  • Yogurt

  • Shoulder bags

  • Coffee

  • Saved wine corks and bottle caps

  • Trips to frozen yogurt eateries

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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Time-lapsed Blogography Day

On June 5, 1996, my senior year of high school was coming to a close, so I took the day off and went into work with my dad. The purpose of this trip was an interview at the nearby PEPCO headquarters, after which I accepted my infamous "computer science internship without any computers".

June 5, 1996 8:59pm Wednesday

By the way, Whitney wrote in my yearbook that I'm a fun guy when I'm not so shy. Adrienne wrote that she was glad she got to know me better and Ada wrote that I'm an incredibly nice and very funny person.

On June 5, 1999, I went to the T.C. Williams senior prom and wore musical suspenders. Everyone says that juniors must be really cool to get to go to the senior prom, but that probably doesn't apply to juniors in college.

On June 5, 2003, I had recently started working full-time at FGM. I spent the first few months on a dead-end project where we evaluated a commercial product for features that it did not do, while the high-paid traveling sales consultants tried to convince us that it did. While taking the opportunity offered by the dearth of real work to learn JASS to write Warcraft III maps, I received this email from Kathy, who was working as a receptionist in Florida.

From: "Kathy Biddick" [kbiddick@hotmail.com]
Subject: Re: Goo-y!
Date: Thu, 05 Jun 2003 15:10:26 -0400

Yes, I'm at work. It's slow, very slow. I finished the book I brought with me. I've heard the new Clay Aiken (from American Idol) song on the radio twice today and that makes me happy. I think it was just released.

Hope you're having a good day!

On June 5, 2004, I had a housewarming party and got a pool-table-shaped clock from Evil Mike, who was formerly known as Jaood. Also, my front yard was covered in plants.

On June 5, 2008, I reviewed Super Mario Kart Wii.

On June 5, 2013, I will be going home after work and grilling a steak.

tagged as memories | permalink | 5 comments

Thursday, June 06, 2013

BU Evolution Day

Seven years ago, I posted a list of ten habits and routines. Here's how I have changed since then:

  1. I always get gas at the same gas station, which is alwaysnext door to the cheapest one within a reasonable radius of my house, because something is always broken at the cheapest one. I always buy gas with casha credit card because no one has that many twenties in their wallets anymore.

  2. When writing a book, sometimes the author will describe, in great detail, a hand gesture or motion of one of his characters. If I read a passage containing such described motions or facial expressions, I always try to recreate them myself. If anyone were to watch me, it'd probably look like I was flashing gang signs at my novel.

  3. I try to do as much of my shopping early on Saturday morning as possible. I will hit the grocery store around 7 and gas up the car. Thenget groceries whenever we need them, or send Rebecca to shop for them.
    I do some of my shopping early on Saturday morning.
    I'll head for Costco around 9 to get in before the yuppy bison stampede through the doors, and do any ancillary shopping at nearby stores like Target and Home Depot. If I sleep late, I'll just not go shopping, rather than risk being caught on the roads after 10 AM. That's when gridlock begins.

  4. I usually mow the lawn after work on Fridays. I always mow the outside edwhen it gets first. Then, I'll eithertall. I always go back and forth in straight lines, or I'll continuously mow in a clockwise spiral until there's no grass left to mow. I won't know which way I'll do it until I start.

  5. I always floss the front teeth first, since those are the most visible. Then, I will work from right to left along my top teeth, and do the same for my bottom teeth. This means that the front teeth get flossed twice. There's a slight space between my front teeth that I can push air through with my tongue. If that feels clogged, I must get to flossing as soon as possible.

  6. I wash my dishes as soon as I'm done using them. Sometimes I will even wash dishes during meals or meal preparation to prevent wandering cats from getting fat.

  7. My wake-up routine: roll out of bed, stumble into the shower, brush and shave, dress, feed the cats, get the newspaper out of the driveway and throw it on the porch, get in my car, drive away. This routine takes twenty minutes tops. My come home routine: get the mail, roll garbage cans back to the side of the house, collapse on the floor or couch with cats for a few minutesscoop cat poop and feed them, and then get on the computer to check mail, since I surely received urgent top secret mail in the fifteen minutes since I checked my mail at work. Cats that don't get fed in the morning try to wake us up about 40% less often.

  8. If there are two reasonably equivalent ways to get somewhere that I go regularly, I will alternate between them until I've figured out the most efficient way to go. On long trips, I will usually take the route that has the least number of miles rather than the route that is the fastest.

  9. I have to keep moving and do as much "chore work" as possible once I get home from work. As soon as I lose momentum, I've pretty much called it a night and nothing else will get done.

  10. I try to keep my dinner courses from touching on the plate but I don't care if they end up mixing. I will generally eat all of one entree before starting on the next one, except for fries. Fries, chips, and other potato products are the only part of the meal that I often mix in between bites of other foods.
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Friday, June 07, 2013

Vacation Day

I took the day off today, so in my stead, Booty will entertain you.

Have a fun weekend!

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

We spent most of the weekend dodging unnecessary rain storms like a rogue with the Evasion skill activated. I mostly stayed in on Friday, working on Bugler and ferrying Rebecca to and from car maintenance. Katie and Joe came over in the evening for hours of fun studying with Rebecca, followed by my glazed grilled salmon.

On Saturday night, after the first wedding shower of the season, Rebecca met me at Lake Anne for a vigorous walk around the lake, followed by a tasty dinner at Singh Thai, which seems to be the only decent restaurant on the lake so far. We also passed a small student recital of young violinists in the community center, all of them Asian, of course.

On Sunday, we went out to northern Loudoun county for the graduation party of Rebecca's cousin, who will also be moving into our hours this coming Wednesday. This probably means that we should learn to be proper role models and stop all of the hard thugging and heavy drugging that usual goes on behind our closed doors.

How was your weekend?

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

List Day: 5 Lessons Learned from Recent News Stories

  1. Apparently, I could be earning $200,000 as a support contractor in Hawaii. Maybe there's some truth to those Work From Home signs on the interstate off-ramps.

  2. Those millions of dollars in government intelligence spending are obviously not spent on PowerPoint design classes.

  3. There hasn't been anything in my network history shady enough to need a whitewashing with moral turpentine, unless playing Minecraft for 6 hours straight is a failsafe sign of terrorism.

  4. The people monitoring social media news feeds probably have an awful time finding a new TV show to watch that hasn't already been spoiled for them.

  5. When I was a similar age, 29 years old, I made the world a better place by Photoshopping cats in burritos. This implicitly made the world a better place, but without the legal conundrum of exposing sensitive materials.

tagged as lists | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

5:31 AM: Getting ready for work.

5:39 AM: The house across the street from us is still for sale if anyone wants us as neighbours.

5:45 AM: Stopped at a light, listening to "Kansas - Journey".

5:53 AM: First person in for the day.

7:26 AM: Working.

11:41 AM: Gathering the necessary supplies to weather tomorrow's derecho.

11:58 AM: Lunch.

12:28 PM: Back to work, with an executive assistant.

2:14 PM: Time for a pre-derecho-mow.

5:00 PM: Prepping some chicken for fajita night.

8:14 PM: Enjoying the summertime on the porch.

9:02 PM: TV time.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

Shadows by Lenka:
Lenka's third album is billed as "lullabies for adults", which is exactly what was delivered. The music has lost much of the playful quality that I enjoyed in previous albums, and replaced it with a hazy, washed out sound that's mellow and comfortable, but not always interesting. The advertising blurb states that this album was inspired by Lenka's marriage and pregnancy, and it's true that it's the musical equivalent of a contented mom.

Final Grade: C+

Regular Expressions Cookbook by Jan Goyvaerts and Steven Levithan:
Regular expressions are in one of those knowledge areas that I actually have learned over the course of my career, but when the time comes to write any expressions that are reasonably complex, I find it faster to just look for examples online. I had hoped that this book would nudge me more towards regular expression self-sufficiency, but it has not. The progression of "recipes" increases in complexity nicely, but so much space is devoted to edge cases and differences between different languages that it greatly loses readability. I still find it faster to adapt online examples than figure out new expressions with my brain.

Final Grade: B-

Excelline Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas:
In my continuing quest to find freezer foods that are easy-to-prepare and actually taste good, I tried these quesadillas from Costco (they were next to the chicken pot pies that were so delicious). On the positive side, the box says that there are 8 but I ended up with 10. Everything else is a negative: the quesadillas cook unevenly in the microwave, resulting in cold chicken and burnt cheese, and a puddle of water leaks onto the plate making any surrounding foods soggy. The smell is good but the taste is forgettable -- there are no real "food" flavours in a bite to cover up the "generic processed stuff" flavour emanating from both ends. The quesadilla falls apart as you cut it, and the salt content is so high that it will probably start crystallizing on your uvula during the mastication process. Leonard wouldn't like this.

Final Grade: D-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Daily Hour

On the one hand, my Daily Hour experiment has not evolved quite as I'd expected, since I now spend much of my free time programming. On the other hand, the experiment worked exactly as it should have, because it forced me to dabble in a bunch of different activities until something grabbed me. The weird part is just that the activity that grabbed me is one I already spend all day at work doing!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

My weekend was tragically shortened by one day, as Sunday was lost to a migraine. Fortunately, it was the first migraine I'd had since June of last year, which means that my brain is hating me less with each passing year.

On Saturday, we kicked off the summer by putting up the new badminton net (finally relegating the nine-year-old net that Anna bought for the house to the trash). In spite of my malathion spraying activities a couple weeks ago, the highest population insect in the back yard right now remains the mosquito. Surprisingly though, we haven't seen or heard a single cicada -- they must love Centreville and points south too much to move north.

On Saturday afternoon, we met up with Anna, Ben, and Erin, and their six offspring at Frying Pan Park, which was full of baby farm animals. We then had dinner at Red Robin until we, ourselves, were full of baby farm animals. Saturday night was game night at Erin and Jon's in Gainesville, which (much like Cascades and Sterling) is the place that Manassas residents say they live when they don't want to be associated with the commoners in Manassas.

I also rewrote the back-end of the URI! Zone to use Spring JDBC and the latest version of Spring MVC on Friday night, so please complain if something isn't working as expected.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Failed Startup Idea Day

Elevator Pitch: "It's like foursquare but with websites!"

User Interaction Model:

  • Gain titles and unlock achievements simply by visiting your favourite websites. No smartphone or GPS required!

  • Compete with others to become the "Mayor", by sitting in your basement on Friday night endlessly refreshing CNN.com.

  • Publish your entire Internet browsing history to your Facebook feed to show "where you've been" to all of your jealous friends.

Business Model:

  • Measure website check-ins with a special browser add-on. Bundle BonzaiBuddy and the ASK Toolbar with each download. Check "install this" by default.

  • Allow users to purchase bulk amounts of website check-ins so they don't have to refresh the pages manually (the Farmville model).

  • Profit!

Expected "Live" Date: Fall 2013

Expected Profitability Date: Immediate

Venture Capital Requested: $1.2 million

tagged as inventions | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Time-lapsed Blogography Day

Twelve years ago today, on June 19, 2001, I had just returned from my exploratory trip to Tallahassee, where I scouted out the area around campus and secured an apartment made out of cinderblocks.

June 19, 2001 6:28pm Tuesday

I'm back. The trip went pretty well, and I've got a good apartment close to campus. Saturday, we got in around 2 and looked at several apartments. Then, we wandered around campus some. It looked like a typical college campus... a little ratty, half-urban half Tech-like. I wasn't too impressed, but it will be exciting to be somewhere completely new, with no preconceived notions. Sunday, we drove all over western Florida, to the beach and other small towns. I got pretty bored, but my dad wanted to look for historical sites. Monday, we found the apartment I ended up picking and finished the shopping by noon. We then drove back to Jacksonville and caught a plane out early this morning. I went straight to work and worked until 3.

Nine years ago today, on June 19, 2004, my sister got married in Barboursville, Virginia. It was incredibly humid, I read a poem, and then turned pages for the pianist.

Six years ago today, on June 19, 2007, I composed the Museday piece, Spikiest. It is still one of my favourite Museday fragments.

Five years ago today, on June 19, 2008, our project at work received the greatest email support request ever documented.

Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2008 4:23 PM
To: RegOps
Subject: Password Reset Request
Importance: Low

Why the Hell am I having such a Mother Fucking hard time gaining access to your God Damn website?

I don't want to change my God Damn password.

-----Original Message-----

A request has been made to change the password on your account. Your new password is:

Four years ago today, on June 19, 2009, we were all placing bets on when Anna's second child would make an appearance. It turned out to be the 23rd.

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Thursday, June 20, 2013

List Day: 6 Indispensible Game Console Requirements

  1. No Startup Clutter: The time it takes from powering up the console to playing a game should be less than 10 seconds. I don't need menus to check the weather or warnings about my cardiovascular health.

  2. No Loading Times: Levels should load in less than 10 seconds. If I can go to the bathroom or hit the gym during a loading screen, you need to optimize your I/O and loading algorithms.

  3. Fun Single Player Games: I don't care about your innovative games that require four people to enjoy. Gaming is me time. I once fell asleep trying to play Super Smash Brothers Wii single player, in order to unlock the things that would make it fun in multiplayer.

  4. Ignore Online Play: I have never played a console game against a random dude-girl on the Internet, because it's not that fun. I haven't even had an in-person game night since June 13, 2008, because married guys have kids and other hobbies.

  5. No Social Integration: I shouldn't need an account or get bothered by "friends" when I just want to play a game.

  6. No Motion Controls: Until motion controls can differentiate between a gentle swish of the controller and arthritis, they are not going to make the game any better. Stop with the gimmicks.

Call me when you've made a console that does all of the above and I'll throw money all over it.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Random Chart Day: Stuff I Eat For Breakfast

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

After I took Friday off to push out a new release of while Rebecca continued to study, we had a dinner of grilled steaks in a new paprika-based rub and tempranillo. The rub was good, but still not so good as a plain old steak with salt and pepper.

Saturday was Rebecca's 30th birthday! To celebrate, we went into DC, dodging all of the fleeing Nats fans to go to the Trapeze School of New York (Washington DC edition). With Annie, Katie, and Joe, we got to soar through the air, even doing some advanced-beginner tricks like backflips and getting caught in midair.

After ensuring that our muscles would be sore for days to come, we had dinner at Matchbox, one of those chic pizzerias that only puts weird stuff on their pizzas, followed by birthday cake at Annie's house.

Sunday was a quiet, errandy day, involving grocery shopping, hedge trimming, lawn mowing, and an early dinner at Los Toltecos.

How was your weekend?

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

List Day: 5 Lessons Learned from Bugler 0.4.0

  1. There are way too many frameworks in software development now. My page shows that I already have over 20 dependencies on existing software libraries and I'm nowhere near done. While it's nice to rely on other peoples' proven works to save time, some of that time is lost by virtue of the fact that you have to learn and integrate all of these frameworks upfront before you even get to the work you want to do.

    For non-programmers, suppose you want to write a short story in English. You know the rules of English grammar and what makes a compelling story, so it should be straightforward. However, you then learn that there's a special pencil that will ensure that your sentence structure is correct and will beep on errors, but you have to take a special class to know how to use this pencil. Just when you've mastered pencil skills, you realize that the eraser on that pencil is crappy, but that another company makes a special eraser that has the bonus side effect of automatically using semicolons properly as you write. You put the eraser on your magic pencil, only to find out that the pencil only writes in French, so you take a refresher class in foreign languages. After spending years learning all of these tools, you might end up writing a decent story, but you also might have gotten so far away from the original goal of story writing that you just drop out of your creative writing club instead.

    Meanwhile, the world has decided that real writers use pens, and your pencils are obsolete.

  2. Thirty to forty hours of effort for a software release is a nice size and scope for an independent project. It's small enough that you can keep it all in your head and make noticeable progress, but large enough that you haven't just changed the font by the time you make your next release.

  3. I've gotten very good at estimating how long a discrete programming task will take within a half hour. However, I'm less effective at actually identifying all the necessary tasks during the planning phase.

  4. I remain ambivalent about DocBook, which is an XML language for writing technical documentation. The selling point of DocBook is that you can write your docs a single time, and then magically convert them into all sorts of output formats like PDF and HTML. I've evaluated DocBook for two separate technical documentation projects now, and the barrier to entry remains high. I find myself researching DocBook, downloading all of the bits, realizing that the documentation doesn't mention two other bits, playing around with samples, and then essentially wallowing into inaction.

    I'm sure DocBook is great for complex projects, but I just find myself four times as efficient by writing in straight HTML. Plus, I think that separating content from presentation is a wonderful theoretical goal, but sometimes, the way you present your content is equally as important to reading comprehension as what you write.

  5. Even though the JavaScript language remains barely better than PHP, it has gotten so much easier to work with in the modern world. I cut my teeth on the awful JavaScript of IE 4 and Netscape 2.0, when the original URI! Domain at buri.campus.vt.edu was apocryphally the first site in the world to autostream irritating MIDI music in the background while the page loaded. It's like going from driving an SUV with my hands on the pedals to having a chauffeur.

  6. tagged as programming | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stuff in My Drawers Day

Back in 1991, I created a magazine parody that was a mix of National Geographic and TIME. These were some of the advertisements in this magazine, emphasizing the high-brow humour found inside of my seventh grade mind.

tagged as memories, media | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Random Picture Thursday

Random swatches of June from my camera's memory card...

[Unfortunately, these images were lost during a server upgrade.]

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Halfway Day

As if you didn't already need further reminders that you are aging more rapidly than many radioactive materials, we have now reached the end of June 2013.

Time flies like a banana around here as evidenced by the fact that it's been a year since I wrote a Museday Tuesday update, a year and a half since the last Friday Fragments column, three years since I bought a Kindle, four years since I cancelled my WoW account (again) and Mike moved to Lowell, and five years since Kathy came with us to Jazz in the Garden.

To celebrate the continued survival of myself, this website, and freedom, I will be taking next week off from work. (Actually, the real reason I'm taking off is because I now accrue leave at a rate of 5.39 hours per week which, when translated to metric, means I work in France).

I may not update this site during the week, but if I do, it will be easily palatable updates like pictures of a sunrise, a random chart, or something Photoshopped. Post your suggestions or Photoshop requests in the comments section and I will use them as fodder for crowd-pleasing updates whenever I feel motivated.

What is your opinion of the first half of 2013?

Send it back for a full refund. (1 vote, 20.0%)

Already half done? I'm still writing 2012 on checks. (4 votes, 80.0%)

2013 is the best a man can get. (0 votes, 0.0%)

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 5 comments


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